NuraTrue Pro headphones deliver lossless wireless audio, but there’s a catch

There has been a lot of hype and speculation about lossless CD audio quality in the world of wireless Bluetooth streaming. People want to know if Apple’s next-gen headphones and earbuds will support it, especially since Qualcomm’s announcement in 2021 that Qualcomm launches lossless Bluetooth audio streaming with aptX Lossless would be available soon. We’re now starting to see new headphones that support aptX Lossless hit the market, including the NuraTrue Pro headphones from Australia-based Nura. They are expected to ship in October and the official price will be $329 (£299, AU$499).

You can order the headphones at the early bird price of $219 through a Kickstarter campaign. Just keep in mind that although Nura is a reputable helmet company, these campaigns can come with risks. Before contributing to a crowdfunding campaign, read the site’s policies — in this case, Kickstarter — to know your rights (and refund policies, or lack thereof) before and after a campaign ends.

Read more: Best wireless headphones for 2022

I received a first sample of the NuraTrue Pro headphones, hoping to finally get a taste of lossless Bluetooth audio, which is supposed to be the bit-for-bit equivalent of the uncompressed audio you would get with a wired headset. I played with them using an iPhone Pro 13, which supports the AAC audio codec, and a Motorola Edge Plus 2022 Android phone, equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon audio with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. According to its specifications, this hardware supports aptX Lossless. Qualcomm states, “AptX Lossless is a new capability of proven aptX Adaptive technology and a new feature of Snapdragon Sound technology that is designed to deliver 16-bit 44.1kHz CD-quality lossless audio over Bluetooth wireless technology. “.

However, it turns out that apparently isn’t accurate. According to a Qualcomm spokesperson, the new Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 is the mobile platform, with FastConnect 6900, which brings aptX Lossless to mobile devices. (It’s “8 More” compared to just “8”, like the chipset in my Motorola test phone.) It’s up to the smartphone manufacturer “whether they want to use the aptX Lossless codec. “A few Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 smartphones are just starting to hit the market now with more on the way.

This is quite irritating and somewhat confusing for consumers. If Qualcomm says Snapdragon Sound supports aptX Lossless, you’d expect any Snapdragon Sound phone to support it, right? But let’s step back for a minute and talk about what aptX Lossless really is from a spec perspective. Alas, it’s all quite technical, so bear with me.

According to Qulacomm, aptX Lossless has a bit rate of up to 1.2 megabytes per second, which is the bandwidth you need for transmitting lossless audio over Bluetooth. It’s even more confusing because headphones like the NuraTrue Pro are also backward compatible with previous versions of Qualcomm aptX Adaptive and Classic, with lossy audio support of 24-bit (96 kHz) at 880 kilobytes per second. This transmission rate allows you to achieve 80% of the path without loss, but not all the way, so it is considered “almost” lossless.

Note that Sony’s popular LDAC audio codec can support wireless streaming at a bit rate of up to 990 Kbps – but you may get dropouts, in which case the bit rate is reduced.

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Noura

The NuraTrue Pro will be among the first to use the latest generation Qualcomm QCC5171 Bluetooth 5.3 sound system on chip. Nura says this “unlocks the transmission bandwidth needed to deliver pristine, uncompressed 44.1kHz 16-bit audio quality over Bluetooth wireless technology.”

Smartphones that will actually support aptX Lossless include several rumored or expected high-end Android models such as the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra, OnePlus 10 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4, and Asus ROG Phone 6. New ZTE and Xiaomi models that are expected to ship in the coming months are also part of the aptX Lossless mix. I hope to try out the NuraTrue Pro and other next-gen buds with the Asus ROG Phone 6, with Qualcomm providing a review sample.

Test with the equipment I have

I use the Qobuz music service for high resolution Bluetooth streaming. To make sure I was actually streaming hi-res music, I downloaded 24-bit (96kHz) tracks directly to the Motorola Edge Plus 2022. I then streamed those local files via Bluetooth to the NuraTrue Pro. I guess I was getting near lossless Bluetooth audio because the Edge Plus 2022 indicated that I was using aptX Adaptive (not aptX Lossless) for my Bluetooth streaming.

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The buds in their case, which now offers wireless charging.

David Carnoy/CNET

I also used Qobuz on my iPhone 13 Pro to stream the same tracks via Bluetooth (using the AAC audio codec). In theory, the Motorola Edge Plus 2022 should offer higher fidelity – and on some tracks I heard a small difference, but it wasn’t day and night. There’s a little more texture and depth to the sound with some tracks, but the headphones still sounded pretty good when I used them with my iPhone. I suspect many people would barely notice the difference, if at all.

The NuraTrue Pro are the progressive model of the current NuraTrue buds, which sell for $200. The originals are on CNET’s list best sounding true wireless headphones and fit more like sports headphones – they include a few sizes of stabilizing fins – and protrude a bit from your ears. They’re not really discreet.

Although their designs are similar (the Pro has a chrome-like ceramic ring around the edge of the bud), the NuraTrue Pro improves on the original NuraTrue with significantly improved voice call performance as well as better noise cancellation. , sound and battery life (up to 8 hours vs. 6 hours). They’re IPX4 splashproof with wireless charging and multipoint Bluetooth pairing, so you can connect the headphones to two devices simultaneously and easily switch audio between them. This feature was useful for my comparison tests.

Like previous Nura headphones and earphones, the NuraTrue Pro has the same hearing customization feature. It’s one of the best you’ll find – a quick 5 minute process, with no test tones – and it should noticeably improve the sound for you.

Nura has added full manual EQ settings for those who want to further tweak their sound. And you can also adjust the bass level with a slider in “immersive” mode in the app. A “high gain” switch in the app turns the volume up a bit. And finally, there’s a transparency mode if you want to let in ambient noise.

NuraTrue Pro Earphones: Final Thoughts

Are the NuraTrue Pro the best sounding buds? No, but they sound great, wide and open, precise and natural, with a warmer profile and advanced bass. The bass is meaty but well defined; and as I noted, it is adjustable.

I’m still not convinced that Snapdragon Sound and aptX Lossless will really have such a big impact on sound quality when you’re dealing with headphones like these despite their high-end nature. The earphone hardware itself (driver design) and some other factors also play a major role in the sound quality. For example, the new Beyerdynamic Free Byrd the headphones ($249) arguably sound better than the NuraTrue Pro, with better clarity, precision, and zip. However, NuraTrue Pro is more likely to fit your ears better than the Beyerdynamic buds.

As I said in the intro, the official price of NuraTrue Pro is $329 (£299, AU$499), which may be too expensive. But as part of its Kickstarter campaign, Nura has early bird pricing that is much more acceptable, and I’d say it’s a decent value at $219.

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